At our April meeting we will discuss a book selected by me (Ron Boothe):
Atticus Lish, Preparation for the Next Life. Originally published in hardback by Oneworld Publications, 2014. Tyrant Books Paperback Second Edition (November 3, 2015)
This book won the 2015 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. One of the reasons I chose this book was because I was both stimulated and mesmerized by the composition of its prose. One question I would ask us to consider while reading this book is, just what is the point of view? How do we know when we are reading dialogue, or thoughts from inside the head of one or more of the characters, or descriptions/explanations from an omniscient narrator? Not an easy question and one that should lead to some good discussion.
The basic story is based on three main characters, an undocumented immigrant from China, a veteran of the Iraq war suffering from PTSD, and a “white supremacist wannabe”. I found the plot to be a page-turner that I did not want to put down once I started it, and I read the entire novel in two sittings. At another level the book can be read as an allegory, and I expect our discussion will also include that topic; one even more relevant today than when the novel was first published in 2014.
As a retired professor, I feel compelled to give two trigger warnings:
- The book includes some descriptions of brutality that are disturbing and more graphic than in the books we typically read, but I encourage everyone to read the book all the way to the end even if some sections make you uncomfortable. These passages are not overly numerous, none are very long, and, at least in my opinion, none of the graphic descriptions are gratuitous.
- This novel is a love story, but one that might just break your heart — It did mine.
One final comment. This is a book that is likely to evoke strong feelings of empathy, something our world could use more of right now.